The First Law of Influence

match-lights-a-candle“I told him a bunch of times, but he just won’t listen.” I hear this type of phrase a lot. Sometimes this sort of thing comes up in our seminars where people are struggling with how to make an impact with their life. This type of phrase comes up when we ignore the first law of influence.

The trouble is in how we think of influence. We think that influence is something that we do – like it’s a manipulation. While we can have influence this way, it is usually very limited. We think, “I told him, so I’ve influenced him.” But that’s not how it works.

Let’s contrast this to another way of thinking about influence. The first law of influence says that influence is causing someone to know, do, or be different. The emphasis is on what is going on with the other person. If we are speaking and they aren’t taking it in, we aren’t influencing them. And speaking louder with greater emphasis, doesn’t fix the problem.

See the difference? We think often of influence as something we do – saying the right thing with the right emphasis, while he first law of influence says that influence is something that happens in the other person. When what we are doing isn’t influencing the other person, we need to try different approaches, until something sticks. Of course, we must be mindful and not harass the person.

To influence someone, they have to want to change. That bears repeating, to influence someone, they have to want to change. If we want to make an impact by influencing people, we have to get really good at helping them want the change. When we’re really good at influencing, sometimes, the other person even feels like it was their idea in the first place.

So, next time you’ve told someone something and they’re just not taking it in, give a try using the first law of influence.


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